Butte Rescue Mission provides shelter from the bitter cold | Local

DUNCAN ADAMS

Jorri Cates found emergency shelter this freezing week at the Butte Rescue Mission.

She was not alone. The mission was busy.

“I wouldn’t have had a place to go,” Cates said on Tuesday, a day when the subzero cold sunk her teeth into exposed skin and knocked out her lungs.

“Without this place, I wouldn’t have a chance,” she said.

When temperatures plunge in the mining town, the staff of the Butte Rescue Mission on Platinum Street thinks about the safety and vulnerability of the people they serve.

“Over the past two days, we’ve distributed probably 20 warm coats,” said Brayton Erickson, co-executive director of the mission.

The Butte Rescue Mission emergency shelter offers 16 beds, but more people can find temporary shelter there when demand increases in freezing weather.

Otherwise, the mission’s dining program offers 40 beds and is designed for long-term stays as residents have addictions, mental health issues, or both.

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“The main goal is to live soberly,” Erickson said, and to provide a safe place for people to heal and put their feet up.

Hypothermia affects the most vulnerable people in a community – the elderly who don’t have enough food, clothing and warmth, and the homeless who sometimes struggle to find safe shelter.

Sub-zero cold bites, burns, numbs and freezes tissue. Risk factors for frostbite include being at high altitudes.

The National Weather Service predicts sub-zero cold will continue overnight through Friday in Butte. The maximum temperature on Wednesday is expected to be 4 degrees.

Misty Johnston, operations manager for Butte’s rescue mission, and Erickson said homeless camps in Butte still exist even when temperatures drop. Some people prefer to be alone and avoid shelters. They live in tents or sleep in cars.

Erickson said a man with mental health issues died of hypothermia last month in Butte. He said the man apparently did not recognize the symptoms that could have indicated he was on the verge of death from exposure.

He said people who first encounter Butte’s rescue mission through the emergency shelter sometimes find themselves in the restoration program.

This program has helped 66 people find full-time jobs and 86 people find housing, he said.

Housing has become more of a challenge, Erickson said, as rental prices have risen in Butte.

The Butte Rescue Mission welcomes donations, he said, including seasonal goods like winter coats and blankets.

“You don’t reach everyone. Our goal is to try.

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